Data Teams and Blended Instruction
At our blended school, we value data in all forms, whereby we seek to meet both the academic and behavioral needs of our students. In the elementary school setting, where we assess reading levels every six weeks, we also assess student growth and mastery in each student’s blended learning every quarter and assess behavioral trends on a monthly basis.
In my class, students are allowed to offer peer support on the computers. My students identify what is a problem or a need they have and it is my job to identify who might be their support. This has helped my students offer guidance and help in a structured way. Peer support on the computers has helped with increasing academic discourse and social interactions as well as give a structured place for students to provide assistance to each other. Cooperative learning and reciprocal teaching are benefits to this strategy as well.
Every Friday we meet to discuss a topic around character development and 21st century skills. This is a vital classroom practice in my class. Because blended learning is so high paced and intense, students need support as not only learners but people as well. Students transition from their seats to prepare to watch videos or form a circle around the perimeter of our carpet. Our council pieces are brought out. Council pieces are small items that both the students and I have brought which hold major meaning to us. Once we meet, the only person who can speak is the one holding the council piece. We begin by making a dedication to someone in our life or someone we have beeng thinking about. At the end of the dedications, we begin our council. The talking piece is passed around and all students share their thoughts or may pass. Sometimes we will bring an on-demand journal to share, or students may respond to a posed question.
Students communicate nonverbally through their hands that they agree, disagree, or want to add onto what someone previously said. Just think for a minute the amount of time we as teachers stop for interruptions. This strategy shows us that there are ways to effectively communicate with each other silently.